The oscillating tool is the secret weapon in your arsenal. No it doesn’t replace random orbital sanders, sawzalls, or skilsaws, or jigsaws. But like any secret weapon, the oscillator is the go to tool when precision and guaranteed outcome is needed. The oscillating tool is the scalpel of our industry. Trim, sand, cut, chisel, scrape about anything you can imagine. You can cut in outlets, flush trim mouldings, undercut trim. In fact if I was restricted to one tool, it would be the mighty oscillator. In micro these tools make quite a bit of sense. In macro, say cutting down a tree, stripping 1000 sq ft of tile mortar, or sanding an entire set of cabinets you would want to use a dedicated tool.
Here is my review of the three I have used. The Dremel, the Bosch cordless, and the Fein.
Lets start with the Dremel Multi-Max $99 at Home Depot
Lets just start by saying, I owned the Dremel long enough to know it wasn’t for me. I did try and run this tool through several feet of flooring for a bathroom floor replacement. The main problem with the Dremel is the tools weight. It seems a third grader could wield one of these without a problem, until you turn it on. You might as well put sandpaper on the body of the tool as well and use that from how much the tool vibrates. Plain and simple it needs more mass. If I was cutting one small section, or wanted my arms to feel like jello, I would buy it. The unfortunate thing about the Dremel, it isn’t the tool you will love, it is the tool that gets you by.
On to the Bosch Multi-X Cordless $179 at Home Depot
I absolutely love this tool. Imagine an electric Porsche, a battery powered tank. This is what this tool does for a glorious 8 minutes per battery charge. So if your job is small, or if power is lacking, buy this tool. Its precise, adjustable, and perfect. I can even live with the lack of extended use, but for one fatal flaw. Within three months the tool has already killed a battery. My theory is that while the actual tool is up to the challenge, the Lithium batteries have not caught up. Perhaps this adrenaline pumped tool is really your pinch hitter. Bring it out, amaze the ones around you, then put it away for rest and recharge. There isn’t a great accessory selection, but the case is cool, and the batteries charge in 15 min. So yes, this tool would have a definite place in my truck box for that pinch hitting moment. Oh one note, the batteries do have a 3 yr warranty. I wonder if they will change that soon!
Lastly the Fein Multi Master $209 at Walker Lumber (Ace Hardware)
This is the tool that held the patent until September 08 for good reason. I am always amazed when a new tool technology surfaces and creates change. This legendary tool started in the $800 range. I purchased the starter kit which comes with enough accesories for most enthusiasts, but no case. Thats okay for me, if I had to get this tool without a cord i would. This Fein exemplifies mastery in tool construction, its the Porsche 911. Having a jumpstart on the competition, the multi master has enough accessories to seriously replace well everything. They even have a keyless version and a case if you don’t mind being freed of some more green. This is the tool I am inwardly proud of owning, its the tool that I would create work around its capabilities. Most importantly, it hasn’t let me down, or anyone I know for that matter. Its strength, smoothness, and engineering are amazing. For me, I would have fewer tools of this calibre, than an entire fleet of junk. So yes, buy this one. Spend twice as much to not get a case, but then again, why would you want to hide this tool in a case, or perhaps that is what they were thinking!